If you're traveling with a tablet or notebook, it can be difficult to find a reliable, secure Wi-Fi network. But if you have your iPhone and a strong 4G signal, you have instant access to a personal hotspot -- letting you bypass weak, insecure or slow public Wi-Fi networks.
All the latest models of the iPhone -- since the iPhone 3G -- have built-in hotspot capabilities. Follow these steps to turn on your iPhone's mobile hotspot, and never be without Wi-Fi again.
First check with your mobile carrier
The first step is to check with your mobile carrier -- some companies impose data limits, or they will ask you to purchase an additional plan. Verizon includes mobile hotspot access for no additional charge on most plans -- but some plans require an additional fee you if you exceed your data limits. AT&T also includes hotspot access in most of its plans, with charges if you go over your monthly data limits. T-Mobile charges $14.99 per month for mobile HotSpot access, allowing you to connect up to five devices at a time. While Sprint includes mobile hotspot access into some of its plans; if you go over the allotted data amount, you won't be charged extra, but it switches from 3G to 2G connectivity.[ Related story: How to use your Android device as a mobile hotspot ]
Once you have confirmed with your mobile carrier that you can use your iPhone as a mobile hotspot, follow the steps below.
Go into your iPhone settings and tap "Personal Hotspot."
Toggle the switch to "ON."
(Alternatively, you can go into your settings > cellular, and find the option to turn your hotspot on)
Create a password by tapping "Wi-Fi Password."
Decide if you want to tether your device to your iPhone using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB.
Connecting via Wi-Fi
- Go to the Wi-Fi settings on the device you want to tether to the iPhone, and find the connection listed as "iPhone."
- Connect to the network using the password you created in step 2.
Connecting via Bluetooth
- Turn on the Bluetooth setting on the device you want to connect.
- Go to the settings on your iPhone and select "Bluetooth."
- Find the device you want to connect, and select it to pair.
- You might see a code appear on your tablet or notebook -- you will need to enter that into your iPhone to connect.
Connecting via USB
- Using the USB cable that came with your iPhone, plug it into your Mac or PC.
- Choose iPhone from the list of Wi-Fi networks on your computer.
If you want to disconnect devices, you can simply turn off your Personal Hotspot, turn off your Bluetooth or unplug the USB cable.
Alternative for Apple users
If you want to share your connection between multiple iOS devices associated with your account, an "Instant Hotspot" feature is already built into your iPhone. With Apple's Continuity feature, devices running iOS 8 or later can share a mobile connection with any of your other devices instantly, without turning on your personal hotspot.
Things to consider
- Always make sure you review your plan's data limits, so you know how much you will be charged if you go over.
- Once connected, the status bar on your iPhone will turn blue, and will display the number of devices that are using your Wi-Fi network.
- Make sure to set a strong password to keep your hotspot secure, especially if you are using it in a public place.
- Using your phone as a hotspot will drain your battery faster, especially if you connect wirelessly, so you'll want to make sure you can charge your iPhone if necessary.
Checking your data usage
If you're worried about going over your allotted monthly data, you can check on your data usage under settings > cellular directly on your iPhone. Alternatively, you can log into your Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile account and see how much data you have left for the month.